The Kingdom of Tonga is the Pot of Gold at the end of the rainbow.
First of all, we found the Tanoa International Dateline Hotel. Situated on the Waterfront in Nuku'alofa with 122 guest rooms. We enjoyed lunch around the pool.
The Visitors Information Centre is located 1 block from the Tanoa Dateline Hotel and well worth a visit. We saw all the town sights by completing their recommended 2-hour walk. These sights included the Convention Centre, Parliament, Churches, the Market and the Government Ministries. This poster is at the Ministry of Finance building. Tonga is a Kingdom, and the King is featured on many billboards.
The Royal Palace is the official residence of the King Tonga. Nuku'alofa's white Victorian wooden Palace was erected in 1867. The Palace is not generally opened to the public. The present King George VI and his family do not live at the Palace. Instead, it is used for official functions and to house the Royal Archives.
A close up of the palace gates.
Mala'e Kula is the area of the Royal Tombs. King George Tupou I, was the first to be buried here in 1893.
Churches are everywhere. Wesleyan, Catholic, Mormon. This is the Free Church of Tonga, opposite the Royal Tombs.
This is the Catholic Church. On Sundays, everything in Nuku'alofa is closed. Even taxis don't operate. We went to the Wesleyan Church at Nukunuku village. The service lasted over 1 hour and was all in Tongan. The singing was amazing. We were acknowledged as guests and everyone shook our hand at the end of the service. A very special morning.
A typical shop. There are no department stores. The Langafonua Handicraft Centre was well worth a visit. It sold traditional tapa cloth, baskets and local wood carvings. The Talamahu open fresh produce market is also a must see. We marvelled at the fruits and vegetables and enjoyed the taste of great local coffee
Don't miss a Wednesday or Friday evening tour at Oholei. This tour runs from 5:30 - 10:30 pm and includes transfers, dinner and a show. Total cost was $55.
Fafa resort, Tonga is environmentally friendly and extremely well run. Activities on the island include bush walks, snorkelling, kayaking, feeding the parrots, massages and just relaxing. The resort has it's own bar and library.
Where the buffet menu was served at Oholei. Food was cooked in an underground oven on heated rocks and included sucking pig, fresh fish with coconut cream, yams and taro, seaweed and a range of other delicious delicacies.
The dining area at Oholei. There was sand on the floor, banana leaves as table cloths and banana stems were used for plates. These were later fed to the pigs.
The entertainment after dinner at Oholei was in the cave next door to the dining area on the beach. There were traditional Tongan dancers and men performing a fire show. A 6-year-old boy even participated in the fire dancing.
The blowholes stretch 5 km along the coast near the village of Houma.
The blowholes are known as Mapu 'a Vaea. They are so powerful they really are spectacular.
The blowholes were formed as the coral limestone was eroded over time by the seawater, it created cavities through which the water bursts. The water can reach heights of around 30 metres due to the pressure difference between the seawater and the air within the cavity.
It is said that the Tongan name Mapu 'a Vaea came from an ancient chief who mediated here for hours. It is a popular place to be at sunset and great that they haven't yet developed an entry fee.
Our 2 bedroom fale on Fafa Island. Each of the 13 guest fales are just steps from the beach and are located separately to each other ensuring privacy.
Our beach chairs at the end of our garden at Fafa. So relaxing and very tranquil, I can just picture myself back there now.
This is the bushwalking track on the 18-acre palm covered atoll of Fafa.
Many Tongan families have their own piece of land that they refer to as their bush. On this land, they companion plant many vegetables. The giant taro is planted to break up the soil. The soil is then hoed into mounds and yams are planted. Sticks are used to lift the yam runners off the ground. It is all very clever and productive. The vegetable stalls all around the island are amazing.
Samantha the masseuse travelling over to Fafa. Massage is one of the relaxing activities that can be enjoyed on the island.
Fafa's transport boat that is used to ferry guests to and from the island. The island is 7 km from Nuku'alofa. The ride takes anytime between 20 minutes to 1 1/4 hours if the tide is low.
Vuna Wharf at Nuku'alofa. Each morning fishermen bring their catch to Tu'imatamoana Fish Market which is located at this wharf.
Deck in front of the open-air restaurant at Fafa resort. If the tide is high you can overwater dine on this deck.
Bust of King George IV at Tupou College
Church Hall at Tupou College. This is an all-boys school founded by Dr Moulton in 1866.
This is the honour roll from 1902, inside the Church Hall at Tupou College. Steve that I visited in Tonga, has his great-grandfather on the list, his name was Molitoni Finau.
Fafa Island Resort is a 4-star property located on an 18-acre palm covered private island. The island is owned by a German family.
Fafa island is surrounded by a clear turquoise lagoon and white sandy beaches.
Maroon Shining Parrot, also known as Kata Koki. These birds were introduced from Fiji. Eight of them nest on Fafa Island .
Purple swamphen. Our messy thief. We left our Fafa welcome coconut drinks on our veranda table to the delight of this hen, who then pooped all over our table.
The major tourist attraction for Tonga is swimming with whales which takes place between July and October when the mother whales come into these waters to calve.
A maximum group of 8 swimmers are taken in a boat 12 km from Nuku'alofa before being fitted with wetsuits and flippers. The search then begins for a tail or a squirt of water to find a whale and her calf. Once the boat gets within 10 meters of the whale, swimmers are instructed to roll into the water and swim beside the whale. The huge calf usually swims above the cow. Each swim lasts around 5 minutes. This procedure continues throughout the day. On our day tour, we had 8 swims as well as lunch on a deserted island.